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is unhealthy.

2 Samuel 17:21–29

Now it came to pass, after they had departed, that they came up out of the well and went and told King David, and said to David, “Arise and cross over the water quickly. For thus has Ahithophel advised against you.” So David and all the people who were with him arose and crossed over the Jordan. By morning light not one of them was left who had not gone over the Jordan.

Now when Ahithophel saw that his advice was not followed, he saddled a donkey, and arose and went home to his house, to his city. Then he put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died; and he was buried in his father’s tomb.

Then David went to Mahanaim. And Absalom crossed over the Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. And Absalom made Amasa captain of the army instead of Joab. This Amasa was the son of a man whose name was Jithra, an Israelite, who had gone in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother. So Israel and Absalom encamped in the land of Gilead.

Now it happened, when David had come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the people of Ammon, Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, brought beds and basins, earthen vessels and wheat, barley and flour, parched grain and beans, lentils and parched seeds, honey and curds, sheep and cheese of the herd, for David and the people who were with him to eat. For they said, “The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.”

Some commentators explain Ahithophel’s suicide as the logical result of his catastrophic loss of stature with the king, but suicide is typically anything but logical. There’s nothing wrong with Absalom getting a second opinion and then taking it. Ahithophel wasn’t a prophet, but therein lies the first clue as to what was really going on.

Now the advice of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if one had inquired at the oracle of God. So was all the advice of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom. — 2 Samuel 16:23

This is unhealthy. Ahithophel is living on a pedestal that doesn’t fit. That pretending wears on his sanity.

The other clue is Ahithophel’s creepy advice to Absalom back in Chapter 16.

And Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left to keep the house; and all Israel will hear that you are abhorred by your father. Then the hands of all who are with you will be strong.” — 2 Samuel 16:21

Given what Nathan told David, this sounds like Ahithophel is trying to live up to his reputation by using grand words. That makes perfect sense in light of the message of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. There, everyone could see the emperor’s clothes unless they were “unqualified for their position or impossibly dull.” No one in the town, except for a child, saw a contradiction in their inability to see the clothes.

Each one, like Ahithophel, knew he was a pretender.

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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here:

The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, are here:

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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